Unisex Names: Camille

camille

This month’s unisex name is French and commonly used a century ago and now. It’s Camille.

ORIGIN AND PRONUNCIATION

Camille is the French unisex form of Camillus which, according to Mike Campbell of Behind the Name, is a Roman cognomen of probable Etruscan origin and, though it has an unknown meaning, it’s probably not related to the Latin word camillus which, in this case, refers to “a youth employed in religious services.”¹

The French pronunciation of this name is something like ka-meeye (ka like ‘hat’ and meeye like ‘eye’ but with the a sound replaced with the sound for the word ‘me’).

HOW POPULAR AND UNISEX IS CAMILLE?

At the moment, in France, it is mainly used for girls (it’s still in the girls’ top 10 and has been there since 1990, though it’s dropping in usage), but for boys overall, it’s rising in usage and, as of 2013, it was its 3rd year in the top 100 for this century².

Using data from INSEE via Journal des Femmes, here’s what the masculine ratio looks like for Camille from 1900-2013²:

camillefrance

Camille was over 60% in the masculine side until the 1960s, which was when Camille, as a masculine name, dropped into the 200s in rankings. Owing to its recent popularity as a feminine name, the number of Camilles since 1900 now looks like this: 188,509 females compared to 70,290 males – 72.84% on the feminine side².

That’s how Camille’s doing in France? What about Switzerland and Québec?

Firstly, to Switzerland, and, according to Statistique Suisse, as of last year, there are around 3,700 female Camilles and 485 male Camilles alive at that time (most of whom live in the French-speaking region), placing the overall gender ratio at 88.41% on the feminine side³.

The table below shows how Camille performed over the last 95 years in the French-speaking part of Switzerland³:

Period Males Male rank Females Female rank Gender
20s 16 112th 12 263rd 57.143% M
30s 41 142nd 16 420th 71.930% M
40s 42 226th 17 509th 71.186% M
50s 18 493rd 15 673rd 54.545% M
60s 21 623rd 25 616th 54.348% F
70s 21 661st 84 246th 80% F
80s 63 312nd 511 42nd 89.024% F
90s 58 319th 1283 4th 95.675% F
00s 30 514th 875 6th 96.685% F
10-15 32 367th 429 11th 93.059% F

In effect, owing to Switzerland’s proximity to France, the transformation from majority masculine to majority feminine is similar in this instance.

In Québec, based on results from the 1911 Canada Census, there seems to be a higher proportion of males in Québec named Camille than in France⁴. In more recent times, this is how Camille’s doing from 2010-2015⁵:

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Girl 342 335 348 287 334 320
Boy 2 2 3 3 0 2
%age ratio 99.419% F 99.407% F 99.145% F 98.966% F 100% F 99.379% F

So, it seems likely that Camille underwent a similar direction in the mid-20th century but the outcome is very much different to that of France’s and Switzerland’s.

That’s the unisex name of the month. If you have any comments about this name or what I put up on this post, leave them below the sources.

Sources:
Behind the Name on Camillus – http://www.behindthename.com/name/camillus¹
Journal des Femmes’ ‘Prénoms’ section – http://www.journaldesfemmes.com/prenoms/²
Statistique Suisse (archived) – http://web.archive.org/web/20160508195034/http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/fr/index/themen/01/02/blank/dos/prenoms/02.html³
1911 Canada Census on FamilySearch – https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2143998⁴
List of Baby Names on Retraite Québec – http://www.rrq.gouv.qc.ca/en/enfants/banque_prenoms/Pages/banque_prenoms.aspx⁵

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